“Right Sophie, we have a couple of options.” She said, holding up 2 birth certificates. “Abigail Faulkner, I think, is the best option. She is an orphan. Lived with her parents until age 14, ran away from her foster homes, mainly in London. Arrived here age 16 and disappeared after only a few weeks. That was 2 years ago. The only issue is that you would be 18 and to be honest, you don't even look 16. Looking young for your age is no crime and make up, properly applied, can probably get you to look age appropriate. Then we have Rebecca Stevens. She would be 17 but she does have living relatives. She was removed from their care from a young age. She was here a year ago and stayed almost 3 months. Again disappeared, never to be seen again. She also had a brother, so if either he or her parents decided to look for her, it could be a problem. I don't think it likely. A higher risk than Abigail though.”
“Whatever you think is best.”
“Right, I'll take your birth certificate, Abigail, and arrange to change your name by d-poll. It also means I can formally adopt you, If you want, of course.” For once she looked a bit uncertain.
“Remember mum, we have a verbally agreed contract, making it formal will just be icing on the cake.”
She smiled hugely. “Great. We just need to work out your name. You still want to go with Sophie?”
“Yes. My name is Sophie. Yes it feels right.”
“What would you like as your surname?”
“What is yours?”
“Green. I don't think you can go with that. Flower could be associated with it and we don't want any connection between the two.”
“What is your maiden name?”
“Hastings. I thought about changing back to it, but didn't want Steph to feel like I was distancing myself from her.”
“Sophie Hastings. I like it. Do you think I need a middle name?”
“Do you want one? There is no requirement for one.”
“Let's leave it at Sophie Hastings then. I'll have a chat with Martha, tell her that you are an orphan and 18, then she will be less worried about getting you in school or that worried parents are going to be knocking on her door. I will also mention that I am thinking strongly of inviting you to live with me. Waiting only to talk to Steph before asking you. I think I will also mention that I am thinking of going on holiday if the right deal comes up, in case she needs to find cover for my volunteering work. I will arrange to see my lawyers and bring any paperwork you need to sign tomorrow. I don't really see any need for you to stay any longer than tonight. Tomorrow you can come back with me.”
“Yay. The longer I stay here, the more risk, I think.”
She guided me back to the lounge and left me to it. I went back to the laptop and carried on researching songs. Some to refresh my memory of the lyrics and also to try and find songs that resonated with me that I could learn. I figured, if I was to even consider singing for a living, I needed more breadth of knowledge.
I usually have great situational awareness, trained into me by numerous attacks. One of the easiest way to avoid incidents was to be aware of what people around you were doing. This time, however, I was so engrossed I didn't notice a girl standing behind me, tapping her foot. The room had carpet, so it was hardly a loud noise but it did cause me to spin round.
“Oh, Hi. I'm Sophie.”
“Good for you. Have you finished. I want to check my email.” said this fairly pretty 16 year old wearing a school uniform. I say fairly pretty, because the expression on her face soured my impression of her. She was one of the girls at the campfire.
“No worries.” I closed everything down and moved away to give her access. I checked the available books and found one that I thought might be worth reading and retreated to the sofa.
“Do you mind?” she asked me.
“I'm looking at my emails. It's private. I don't want you looking over my shoulder. Could you” she made a shooing gesture “go somewhere else.”
I was a good 2 metres away, sitting on a sofa, hardly in a position to see what she was doing. I considered her for a minute. I didn't want her to think she had intimidated me, on the other hand, I was only going to be here for one night, and she probably felt I was invading her territory. I almost laughed when I had a mental picture of a her lifting her leg and pissing on the computer and saying 'MINE'.
“Sure. I will have more pleasant company in my room.” As I left I heard a muttered 'Bitch' behind me.
I read for awhile. The book didn't really grab me so I wondered to the kitchen to see if I could help. Sam was there and at least she smiled when she saw me.
“Hi Sam. Do you want some help?”
“That would be great. I guess you are not on the roster yet, are you?”
“Volunteering for work, you must be crazy.”
“I think I was worried that if the wrong person was cooking, my dinner would have spit in it.”
She laughed. “You've met the pack then. Or less politely, the three bitches.”
“One of them.”
“I'm guessing you're street, like me?”
“They think they are better than us, coz they never had to go street.”
“Oh well, can't please everyone. So, what are we cooking.”
I'm not a great cook, never really had the chance or inclination. I can follow instructions and Spag bol is pretty easy. Sam was pretty good company and kept me entertained whilst we got everything ready. The quantities were huge. We were cooking for 8 girls aged 14 to 20 and the 2 families that I had met earlier and Martha, of course. They didn't eat with us, just took their plates and disappeared back to their separate kitchen. So there were 9 of us, 8 girls and Martha, sitting around a table meant to seat 8. A little squashed but not too bad. Martha kept the conversation going, but it was an uphill battle. The pack just consisted of the three girls and they refused to talk to or answer anyone but Martha or another pack member. The rest of us just ignored them. Sam talked about the campfire and how great it was and what a good singer I was. Martha was agreeing and trying to convince the other girls to go next time. The pack I could tell was undecided on whether to heap scorn on me or continue the not talking policy.
As soon as everyone had finished the pack disappeared and the washing was left to 2 of the girls that I was talking to. Amy, aged 14 and Sarah aged 17. They both seemed nice. Amy was particularly shy and hardly said a word and Sarah was a comedian coming out with outrageous stories that were hilarious. I was half tempted to just stay in the kitchen area whilst they were there to keep them company and hear the next outrageous thing Sarah was going to say.
Instead, I went back to my room to grab my book so I could exchange it. Upon entering, I found my clothes all across my bed. The only things missing was a bit of money that I brought in case of emergencies (£10), my hat, scarf and a pack of new underwear that I hadn't opened yet. I felt weirdly violated. Someone handling your underwear and stuff, just feels wrong in a very uncomfortable way. I was pretty sure who was responsible and my first instinct was to aggressively confront them. I'm not naturally an aggressive person and I have never started a fight in my life, so I started thinking how else I could deal with it. Then it occurred to me that this was a serious offence in this household. Anyone caught would lose their place, so who would risk that? Unless it was a frame job. I report the missing items, the house is searched and the items are mysteriously found in a girls room, who claims innocence.
I figured Sam was the best person to figure this out. I knocked on her door and explained the situation. The first thing we did was search her room and surprise, surprise, there it all was, minus the money. I guess the money would be very hard to chase or prove, but it did give me an idea. We went to Martha with my idea and we put the plan into action.
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